Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Getting bumped off the food chain

One of the things that I miss the most about not having a child is going out to eat. Once or twice a week my husband and I would go on a date. It was never anywhere super fancy, but it was always fun. Sometimes we met friends, but mostly it was just us. It was something we looked forward to.

After The Baby turned 10 weeks old, we resumed going out. Things change so quickly when you have a kid. What works one week, no longer works the next. We have found over the last year that we’ve been moving ourselves to different types of eateries based solely on The Baby’s needs. Unfortunately, with each passing phase, we seem to sink further down the food chain.

Stage One: Take Out
My husband and I aren’t fans of take-out. We feel that half the price is in the ambiance and the service. If you aren’t giving me a discount to NOT occupy your table and use your dishes and servers and to plate the food and clean up after myself, chances are I’m not going to order take out from you.

Pizza, of course, is the exception. We ordered quite a few pizzas on Friday nights. It’s easy to get burnt out on pizza, especially when your nursling dictates that you can’t eat dairy or he will projectile puke once or five times daily and you have to eat your pizza without cheese. Not the same.

Luckily, we found a good Vietnamese place that has zero ambiance, if-y service and awesome noodle bowls and spring rolls. Taking the food out was not an issue. To this day, I love take-out noodle bowl night!

Stage Two: Open Air = Sleeping Infant
Our first culinary excursions outside the house were short. We went to Rita’s Italian Ice. Typically we’d have gone for ice cream, but I was nursing and couldn’t eat dairy. Sitting outside with a frozen ice for 10 minutes with a newborn was a good stepping stone.

When we resumed eating out, we discovered that if we dined outside, chances were good that The Baby would fall asleep. Yah!… we love this little Italian place with a cute little courtyard. We ate there several times. Lots of places in the city we live in have sidewalk seating, also perfect… we could go downtown with our kid. Woo-hoo, I could drink a beer amongst adults!

Stage Three: Noisy
Next came the noisy restaurant phase. Sleeping through dinner at restaurants was, unfortunately, short lived. We have a pretty fussy baby. BUT, we were determined. We knew that noise soothed him. For whatever reason, it made him focus. According to The Happiest Baby on the Block, it reminded him of the womb. Whatever.

It’s tough to find a noisy restaurant without a wait. We happened on an old warehouse turned microbrew/restaurant one night because we had a coupon. There is never a wait, the food is good, the beer is better and the acoustics are awful. The place is loud -- perfect!

Stage Four: The End?
Sadly, we are now in the hurry up phase. This means restaurants like Atlanta Bread Company, Panera Bread, Moe’s Southwest Grill. They are a step up from fast food and a step down from, well, just about everything else. Don't get me wrong, I like those places... for lunch.

Since The Baby is eating solid food, we have to bring his food along. We hold out as long as we can before we start to feed him because once he’s done, we have a five-minute window to get him out of the highchair. As The Baby becomes increasingly mobile, I have a feeling that five-minute window is going to shrink. What’s left? McDonald’s? We will be back to square one.

Noodle bowl, anyone?


Jerseygirl89 said...

Keep bringing the baby out, you'll be surprised at how much better it gets if they get used to going out. We also discovered that gnawing on breads (starting at about 7 months) at restaurants only gave us an extra 15 minutes every time.

BusyDad said...

Oh yes... the evolution of restaurant criteria! These days, nothing trumps a big booth where my son can't annoy anyone, AND he has room to play with his backpack full of toys that he needs to bring everywhere we go. Best booths? Outback Steakhouse. Keep it in mind for the future.

MommyK said...

It gets better closer to 2, when walking is no longer such an exciting skill. Both mine are pretty good about eating out right now.